It’s hard to believe we have all been subjected to this pandemic for nearly two years! Each and every one of us has faced lockdowns and self-isolation, and leamed how to work at home. This is not easy for an art gallery which depends on events in the gallery and art fairs to show our inventory and meet people face to face. Of course we continue to produce catalogues and have done some excellent online presentations. There are advantages to online catalogues, which can include more detailed information and video and other interactive elements.
The first live fair since the curtailed TEFAF Maastricht show in March 2020 was in October 2021 at Frieze Masters in Regents Park. We launched the long awaited Henry Moore show at the fair and then transferred it to the gallery. This project had been a long time in the planning and proved to be very successful.
This was followed in the gallery by Sybil and Cyril: Cutting Through Time, an exhibition that launched Jenny Uglow’s wonderful new biography on the life and work of Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power, two of the leading artists at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art through the 1930s. This exhibition too was very successful with a large number of visitors and sales. Our last exhibition of 2021 was another book launch and show of the work of Tim Flach, described by the famous writer, zoologist and Surrealist artist Desmond Morris as ‘The Most Beautiful Bird book ever made – by a mile. Tim Flach is a photographic genius’ – the exhibition was again a huge success.
Our plans for 2022 rather depend on how the pandemic unfolds. We had expected to be at Islington for the London Art Fair in January. This is now postponed to April 20th, in the circumstances a wise move by the organisers. However much of the work we had selected for the fair will be on show in the gallery and is included in this virtual catalogue. Highlights include new work by John Blackburn who will celebrate his 90th birthday in June. Brendan Stuart Burns’ career continues to flourish with successful gallery representation in New Zealand and most recently in California. Sean Henry’s sculpture continues to find new collectors and new work by Melanie Comber is also included.
This year we have two new additions to our roster of artists; John Bartlett will be exhibiting with us for the first time. His paintings oscillate between representation and abstraction as he explores ways in which to convey a layered sense of time past in half- remembered, half-forgotten places we can all identify with. Keith Grant (born 1930) is also new to us and will be showing recent powerful landscapes created at his studio in Norway.
We will show a selection of each artist’s work at the gallery together with some new acquisitions from our Modern British collection, also featured in this catalogue.
Death of a Working Hero, 2016
251 x 200 cm.
Signed by the artist
Edition of 6
Accompanied by a numbered certificate
In ‘Hard Man’, the first episode of his television series, All Man (2016), Grayson Perry went to north-east England to talk to former mine workers and cage fighters. He attended the blessing of the banners in Durham Cathedral, as part of the annual Miners’ Gala, when trade-union banners are carried through the streets accompanied by brass bands. Hearing the banners blessed, in the cathedral setting, struck him as ‘a funeral for a certain sort of man’.
Perry’s Death of a Working Hero (2016) draws from this experience, and from the examination of masculinity that structured the television series. Scrolled around the upper part of the tapestry is a text resonating with the well-known passage from Ecclesiastes 3 (‘To every thing there is a season’), reworded as ‘A time to fight, a time to talk, a time to change’. Between the sparring figures of a miner and cage fighter a small boy holds a teddy. Below, in a landscape of pit gear, iron bridges and cobbled streets, a funeral takes place. Those watching are not just the elderly, but children and young women dressed for a night out. With the closures of the pits, some Durham miners committed suicide. Perry spoke to a woman whose young son had taken his life, and recalled him as happy and fun-loving: ‘I feel like he wanted to die in that moment, but he didn’t want to die for ever’.
Addressing the depth and complexity of these feelings, Perry focuses on the veneer of masculinity. Bravado and tattoos are skin-deep: symbols of resilience, deflecting attention from the
vulnerability beneath. Tapping into the cultural history of the union banners,
and transposing their materiality provocatively into the sphere of fine art, Perry argues for change and equality.
Six Snapshots of Julie, 2015
A series of 6 woodcuts with lithographic underlays printed on 185 gsm Aquarelle Arches Satin Paper
72.5 x 48.5 cm.
Signed by the artist and numbered on the reverse
Edition of 68
£17,500 (exclusive of taxes)
I made six prints, one for each decade of Julie’s life. The first one shows her as a young girl on Canvey Island, as it might have looked in the 1950s, with flimsy bungalows, telegraph poles and the refinery belching smoke in the distance. The second is her in a council estate in Basildon, a sexy young rock chick in her hot pants and boots, leaning on a motorbike – a premonition of her own death, perhaps. In the third scene, she’s a young mother picnicking with her two kids in the park. That’s my favourite image, because it captures the poignant trapped feeling of that situation. She was still in her relationship with Dave at the time, but there’s a row of houses in the background and it’s all a bit Larkinesque; I was very much trying to pick up on the atmosphere in Larkin’s poem ‘Afternoon’ where he talks about the young parents in the park: ‘Before them, the wind / Is ruining their courting-places […] Something is pushing them / To the side of their own lives.’
The fourth image shows Julie with one of her workmates, out on the piss. It’s like a photo-booth portrait of them from the time she’s working as a social worker. The fifth print is a picture of her second wedding. Julie’s got flowers in her hair, and both she and Rob are looking a bit dumpy and middle-aged by now. The final picture is her in front of the Taj Mahal, on one of their trips. When Rob finds that photo after her death, he remembers how he’d promised her that ‘if she died / He would then grieve as deep as Shah Jahan / And build a Taj Mahal upon the Stour’ – a promise which ends in this house being built as her shrine.
I used a set of these prints in black and white as wallpaper on the ceiling of the main room in the house. They are made from blocks cut by a computer-controlled router: they were the first woodcut prints I’ve ever made and I really like the effect of them.
Map of Nowhere, 2008
153 x 113 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 68 verso
Edition of 68
Private Collection, UK
Osborne Samuel, London
Etching from five plates, printed on one sheet.
‘The starting point for this print was Thomas More’s Utopia. Utopia is a pun on the Greek ou topos meaning ‘no place’. ‘I was playing with the idea of there being no Heaven. People are very wedded to the idea of a neat ending: our rational brains would love to tidy up the mess of the world and to have either Armageddon or Heaven at the end of our existence.
But life doesn’t work like that – it’s a continuum.’ 
Prints are no secondary art form for Grayson Perry, they are considered, large-scale final pieces. A vocal advocate of therapy and analysis, in the Map of Nowhere Perry explores his own belief system; His opinions contend with those he finds crowding around him in wider society. The print’s grand proportions encompass the artist’s taste for niggling detail.
Perry started the drawing in the top left-hand corner, and worked towards the bottom right-hand corner, without planning the in-between; instead ideas were allowed to emerge, leading from one to another, through the drawing process.
As also seen in his subsequent major etchings, Map of an Englishman (2004) or his ‘playscape’, Print for a Politician (2005), Perry prefers to leave ink on the plate during the printing process; he avoids creating too crisp an image in order to evoke an antique look. Perry is yoking his map to its historical pedigree. With this etching, Perry is working from a big historical model rather than one from fine art: the medieval mappa mundi (map of the world) provides a recognisable template. As pre-Columbian diagrams, they would illustrate a sum of knowledge, acting as both instructive and decorative objects, making connections vivid and comprehensible. The Map of Nowhere is based on a famous German example, the Ebstorf Map, which was destroyed in the Second World War. It showed Jesus as the body of the world, with his head, hands
and feet marking four equidistant points around the circle.
Perry spikes the tradition with contemporary social comment. Within a circular scheme, like the Ebstorf Map, or the existent Hereford Mappa Mundi (www.herefordcathedral.org), he presents a flattened-out analysis of his world – from jibes about current affairs to the touchstones of his personal life. Where the Ebstorf Map has the world unfolding around Jerusalem, Perry’s personal world view encompasses a cacophony of ideas and preoccupations, with ‘Doubt’ right at the centre. The artist’s alter ego Claire gets a sainthood, while people pray at the churches of global corporations: Microsoft, Starbucks, Tescoes. Tabloid cliches abound, each attached to a figure or building: ‘the new black’, ‘kidults’, ‘binge drinking’, having-it-all’. Top right, the ‘free-market-economy’ floats untethered, preempting the credit crunch that was to take hold in the autumn of 2008. All-over labels demand that the map is read – or quizzed – close up. This is a clearly articulated satire, and while Perry adopts a medieval confusion of scale and proportion, the diagrammatic style is as adamant as its religious forerunners. Beneath, there is a drawing of figures on a pilgrimage, set in a realistic landscape. They are at final staging post before making their way up to a monastery at the top of a mountain beyond, which is hit by
a beam of light, coming from the artist’s bottom.
 Jackie Klein, Grayson Perry (Thames and Hudson, London 2009), p.162
Maze of Figures, 1970
Gouache, watercolour and ink
73 x 52 cm.
Agnew’s, London ‘Keith Vaughan,’ 2012, no.25
Austin Desmond Fine Art, Keith Vaughan, May-June 2012, no.25
Beginning to make a gouache, Vaughan would first block out colours, working intuitively. He thus started
as usual, with no more than a process. The making of a series of wet marks across the white board in a sequence of colours (blue black I fancy at the moment) and see where it leads.¹
Indian ink might then amplify the emerging forms, outlining figures against the coloured ground. Each decision was guided by what came before, as part of a complex, fluid approach.
The texture and composition of Maze of Figures bear witness to this method of working. Tonally, the image consists of layers of colour – brown, blue and green – in slabs and lines, wet on wet, dripped and spattered, from which emerge and recede the overlapping silhouettes of figures. A connection with abstraction expressionism proves tempting if elusive. In his journal for 1974, Vaughan recorded,
Looked at some pictures of Jackson Pollock. Some are still good. Though I could do better. Scale, energy and nerve is all one requires.²
Energy and nerve are present in abundance in Maze of Figures: its lines effervesce, calligraphically and contrapuntally, against a tapestry of colour.
¹ Keith Vaughan, Journal (2 July 1972).
² Keith Vaughan, Journal (26 November 1974).